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Don’t be blind to the visually impaired, employers told

21/02/2018By Matthew Woodley
A Vision 2020 Australia-hosted Parliamentary Friends Group was held in Canberra last week to advocate for increased representation of people who are blind or have low vision in the workforce.

The event was attended by multiple federal politicians and afforded disability advocates the opportunity to impress upon them the importance of working together to reduce barriers for people who are blind or have low vision.

A highlight of the night was the keynote address from Australia’s Disability Discrimination Commissioner, Mr Alastair McEwin, who encouraged a shift away from theoretical discussions about diversity and inclusion, and instead asked for renewed focus on tangible actions. He also said employers needed to implement practical strategies to remove barriers for people with disabilities in the workplace.


"The government, employers and community must work together to reduce barriers for people who are blind or have low vision from participating in the workforce."
Amanda Vanstone, Vision 2020 Australia board chair

“Australian employers need to take action to send the right message through voluntary organisational targets; a message that declares that disability does not equate to inability,” McEwin said.

“Employers must think about inclusion and make reasonable adjustments to

support employment of people with a disability. This is essential to developing a culture of diversity and inclusion in the workplace.”

The chair of the Vision 2020 Australia board, Ms Amanda Vanstone, asked for collaboration in improving access to employment for those with low vision.

“An accessible workplace is simply good business and employers can make their workplaces accessible. New technologies and redesigned workspaces are not difficult. More internships and graduate roles can be offered,” she said.

“The government, employers and community must work together to reduce barriers for people who are blind or have low vision from participating in the workforce.”

The event is one of a raft of measures Vision 2020 Australia has implemented to lobby the Federal Government with regard to employment for people with a disability. In particular, it has challenged the government to have 7% of the public service employed by people with a disability, including those who are blind or vision impaired, within the next five years.

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